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Economy in Brief

U.S. JOLTS: Job Openings & Hires Rates Move Up
by Tom Moeller  November 22, 2013

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in its Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) that the September job openings rate rose to 2.8% from a downwardly-revised 2.7% in August. The job openings rate is the number of job openings on the last business day of the month as a percent of total employment plus job openings. The actual number of job openings rose 8.6% y/y to 3.913 million.

The private-sector job openings rate increased to 3.0% from 2.9% in August. The rate in education & health services held at a cycle-high of 3.4%. Also, the rate in professional & business services rose to 3.5% but remained down from the 4.2% high early last year. The rate in manufacturing slipped to 2.1%.  In the government sector, the job openings rate held at 1.7%, its lowest level since December.

The hires rate improved to 3.4% from 3.3% in August, equaling the expansion's high. The hires rate is the number of hires during the month divided by employment. The hires rate in the private sector rose to 3.8%. The hires rate of 5.4% in leisure & hospitality remained down from its March '12 high of 5.9%. Also, the relatively high 5.1% in construction was well below the 6.5% rates common early in 2011. The hiring rate of 4.1% in retail trade was down from August while the hiring rate in education & health services dropped sharply to 2.5%. In the factory sector, the rate was stable m/m at 2.1%, improved from 1.7% six months ago. The government sector hires rate slipped to 1.3%.

The number of hires rose 0.6% m/m in September and were 8.7% above last year. Private sector hires advanced 9.1% y/y. Hiring in professional & business services grew 18.1% y/y while new jobs grew 12.8% y/y in the factory sector. Hiring in retail trade advanced 12.5% y/y and hiring in leisure & hospitality grew 8.6% y/y. Government sector hiring rose 3.2% y/y.

The job separations rate held steady at 3.2% during September as the actual number of separations increased 9.2% y/y. Separations include quits, layoffs, discharges, and other separations as well as retirements. The layoff & discharge rate edged up to 1.3% in September. That's versus a recession peak of 2.0% in early 2009. The private sector layoff rate was steady at 1.4% while the government's rate gained to 0.5%.

The JOLTS survey dates only to December 2000 and the figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

JOLTS (Job Openings & Labor Turnover Survey, SA) Sep Aug Jul Sep'12 2012 2011 2010
Job Openings, Total
 Rate (%) 2.8 2.7 2.7 2.6 2.6 2.5 2.2
 Total (000s) 3,913 3,844 3,808 3,603 3,612 3,384 2,930
Hires, Total
 Rate (%) 3.4 3.3 3.3 3.1 38.9 37.7 37.4
 Total (000s) 4,585 4,599 4,497 4,217 51,946 49,644 48,637
Layoffs & Discharges, Total
 Rate (%) 1.3 1.2 1.2 1.3 15.4 15.4 16.8
 Total (000s) 1,727 1,676 1,589 1,732 20,670 20,320 21,747
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